Having a character replaced by an identical substitute for unknown purposes is an old sci-fi trope. But by this point, Star Trek the Next Generation seemed to have finally hit its stride. Or has it? Jimmy and Tom, as always, have some thoughts.
Alien forces kidnap Picard…and leave a double in his place!
jimmy: So there’s an unidentifiable disturbance in the Captain’s quarters. He is unresponsive to hails. I should get there as quickly as possible to make sure he’s alright, so I’ll leave the bridge and walk at a slightly accelerated rate.
tomk: Running in tight corridors can be dangerous.
jimmy: Perhaps. But you know what’s better than running? The transporter.
tomk: They don’t use that much to get around the ship.
Assuming you can lock coordinates that quickly.
jimmy: I’m sure Worf could hail O’Brien, “Transport me directly to the Captain’s quarters” and be beamed there in less time than briskly walking there.
I also don’t know how far away his quarters are from the bridge, but still.
tomk: And you don’t want to beam in on the Captain if he’s, uh, checking the main mast or something.
jimmy: Heh. True.
But even forgetting this particular emergency, given the size of the ship, why aren’t people beaming all over the ship instead of taking turbo lifts?
tomk: Is it smart to do that on a moving ship?
jimmy: I’m sure they could have dedicated platforms at various levels in different areas. The computer would be smart enough to move people around safely. I would think it safer than beaming from one moving ship to another. Or from a ship to a planet.
tomk: Well, if this is the hill you’ll set your flag on, so be it.
jimmy: It just stuck out to me here. Especially when no one was concerned enough to even be running to potentially save the Captain.
tomk: Picard was fine.
He just went off with Dave.
jimmy: Dave’s not here, man.
But how dumb were these aliens? Dozens of Federation ships to choose from, and they targeted the Enterprise.
jimmy: They probably just grabbed it because it was nearby. Either way, not the brightest.
tomk: Look at Picard’s crew: Riker, who knows how to set up a complex shield system after just a wink and a nod; Crusher, who probably knows what kissing Picard really feels like; Troi, an empath; Data, a highly observant android; Worf, the MVP; Geordi, who can see when people lie to him; and Wesley, who’s special.
These were the people the Big Giant Head was trying to fool.
jimmy: And they would have gotten away with it too if not for those pesky kids and their meddling dog! No wait, that’s not right..
tomk: Yeah. The pesky kid was in on it.
jimmy: But he didn’t do much. I can see how Will Wheaton grew dissatisfied with this season.
tomk: I meant the other pesky kid. The one with Picard.
jimmy: Oh right. That kid. That would make more sense.
tomk: Though Wesley being the one who contacted those aliens in the first place makes sense…
jimmy: He is special but space racist. It’s a conundrum.
tomk: He’s a special racist?
jimmy: Apparently. But Picard’s cell mates can give him a run for his money.
tomk: Which one? The big guy with the knife who was played by a guy with a reoccurring supporting role on Babylon 5 or the weasel?
jimmy: They were both racist though it seemed.
tomk: Yeah, but one was a pushover.
jimmy: He was from planet Switzerland.
tomk: Even those guys have fancy army knives.
jimmy: Might as well have made that guy a Klingon.
tomk: Apparently, Roddenberry didn’t want them using too many aliens from the old show, insisting they invent new ones. They made an exception fro Worf, but that’s why you had to wait for Tuvok to see another Vulcan in the main cast.
Besides, that Neutral guy was sure to cause people to question things.
jimmy: Or that Doctor who is always behind a support beam or something.
tomk: Dr. Solar is very thin.
jimmy: They did do a good job casting doubt on Squidward, though I was a little suspicious of the young Starfleet officer when she knew the recent goings on with the Enterprise.
tomk: So was Picard.
Those guys weren’t all that smart after all.
jimmy: It’s no surprise that Picard was portrayed as the smartest guy in the room, but the whole non-verbal communication imprison the aliens on the bridge scene was a bit much.
tomk: You don’t believe Picard has his crew that well-trained?
jimmy: A look or nod to Riker maybe. But then Riker to Worf, etc.? C’mon. And how many things need to be done by how many people to set up that containment field?
tomk: Klingon sign language.
jimmy: It just seemed a little over the top. And not in a classic Stallone way.
tomk: You don’t want to see Picard arm wrestle his way to freedom?
jimmy: Now I do!
tomk: That’s really more of a Captain Jake thing.
jimmy: True, but would be awesome.
tomk: Sometimes, you are very easy to please.
jimmy: Well, I am Canadian after all.
tomk: I see. Have a plate of poutine and some ketchup chips.
jimmy: Is it real poutine?
tomk: Only the finest poutine in three provinces.
jimmy: I’ll take it!
tomk: But would you join in on Picard’s sing-along?
jimmy: I couldn’t, as I wouldn’t know the words…unlike WAY too many of the Enterprise crew.
tomk: That’s all the music they have. Not counting Riker’s jazz or Data’s string quartet.
jimmy: I assume that’s a real song. But seriously, not only does Picard know a drinking sea shanty, but most of the crew does too? Just odd.
tomk: I’m sure some were just mouthing a few words and pretending.
jimmy: Like Geordi and Worf?
tomk: Well, Geordi’s VISOR might have been feeding him the lyrics. Worf looked like he barely tried.
jimmy: True. Klingons probably don’t know many drunken sea shanties…or do they?
tomk: They improvise them for fabulous cash prizes.
jimmy: Klingons need cash?
tomk: Doesn’t everybody?
jimmy: Not Starfleet.
tomk: You gotta pay the Ferengi with something if you stop at Quark’s for a drink.
jimmy: That is a good point. Do you ever see money being exchanged for drinks on DS9?
tomk: I think I read the station has an all-purpose ATM near Quark’s bar that has some Federation symbols on it so Starfleet types have access to some kind of money.
jimmy: Or just a tab.
tomk: You gotta pay those eventually.
jimmy: Do you though?
tomk: I don’t have a bar tab.
jimmy: Me neither.
tomk: Do we know any drunks we could ask?
jimmy: They probably don’t pay their tabs.
tomk: You have a low opinion of unemployed drunks.
jimmy: Hey, if I can pull myself out of it so can they!
tomk: The unemployed part or the drunk part?
jimmy: There are two distinct parts?
tomk: Depends. Are you drunk at work?
jimmy: Right now?
tomk: Or are you sober with nothing to do?
At any time.
tomk: Then you’re clear. Have a beer.
tomk: Did you have anything else to add to this one, Jimmy?
jimmy: Are we at the end already? Let’s see, Worf walking not running or using the transporter to check on the Captain? Check. Picard attending the poker game for the first time? Not sure we mentioned that, and he didn’t play. And he wasn’t Picard. Picard and Beverly making out? Doesn’t really count as it wasn’t Picard I guess, but him immediately showing her the door and then their exchanging of looks at the end were highlights. Picard being the smartest man in the room, space racists, surprisingly impressive non-verbal communication? Check, check, check. BTW, that transporter tech should be of interest to the Federation, or at least they should be scared of it since those guys could use it to make exact clones of anyone at will. Wesley had nothing to do. Troi’s “powers” where useless. Picard and crew know old Earth drinking songs and enjoy non-alcoholic (I’m assuming) beer. Red gelatinous hockey pucks are nutritious but not delicious and fake Klingons won’t eat them. Did I miss anything?
tomk: Riker won’t endanger the crew.
And Crusher will have Picard making a lot of nervous suggestions for the next few weeks.
jimmy: I meant to mention Riker (and Worf) rightfully mutinying. And although it was Faux Picard, at the very least it gave us a glimpse into Beverly’s feelings. She is interested, but wants to keep it in the Friend Zone for now. Though she didn’t protest the kiss too much, and seemed rather off put when he showed her the door.
tomk: Wouldn’t you? That co-worker who you’ve had submerged feelings for lays a big one on you and then says, “Well, so long!”
jimmy: I suppose I would.
tomk: Just ask Homer.
tomk: But doubles ruin it for everybody. Remember when that Watson double came in, bought everybody lunch, was kind to all, and respectful of everyone’s feelings? Really ruined it when the real one came back.
jimmy: It was the best of times and then the blurst of times.
tomk: There certainly was an outblurst of tears.
jimmy: You are on fire today.
tomk: It’s not my first day.
jimmy: Anything else?
tomk: Can we get Watson’s double back?
jimmy: Unfortunately, when Original Recipe Watson found out what his double was up to, he dropped him in a smoke stack.
tomk: Too bad. Maybe we need a vacation.
jimmy: Doesn’t sound like there’s much adventuring to he had at that. Certainly not 44 minutes worth.
tomk: Or maybe I was segueing.
jimmy: Me too…not my best asset.
tomk: Well, one of us needs a vacation. Maybe Picard.
jimmy: He needs it to get away from the looks Crusher keeps giving him.
tomk: Shall we see what happens when the series basically writes an episode to fit Patrick Stewart’s personal requests for the show?
jimmy: The most British episode ever!
tomk: Well, maybe. Shall we see what Picard does to relax?
jimmy: Hopefully it’s not reading, because that didn’t work out so well here.
tomk: Well, Picard’s hobbies include archeology. That’s hard to do on a starship. But let’s see if he packed a book for his trip in a highly illiterate century.
Sweet Home “Episode Five”
Noteworthy Issues: The Amazing Spider-Man #62 (July, 1968)
The X-Files “Home”